Meyer lemons are sweeter than other lemons, sometimes even taking on an orange-like aroma and flavor. They are so named because they were identified in 1908 by Frank N. Meyer and are thought to be a cross between Eureka or Lisbon lemons and a mandarin orange.
What's the Fuss About Meyer Lemons?
People love Meyer lemons because they have a sweeter and more floral taste than other lemons and can even have a slightly orange tint and flavor.
Since they also have very thin skins, they are difficult to transport and store, making them all the more coveted.
Where and When Meyer Lemons Grow
Meyer lemons are more seasonal than the ubiquitous Lisbon and Eureka lemons, with the limited commercial harvest running from December or January through May.
Most Meyers are grown in California backyards, but rising interest and wide culinary interest have created demand for a commercial crop and they are increasingly available at markets outside the Golden State.
How to Use Meyer Lemons
Meyer lemons are, as mentioned, sweeter than regular lemons, making them great additions as fruit rather than just juice and for adding lemon flavor without the mouth-puckering sourness of other lemons. I love to add them to salads - sectioned for maximum appeal - like this Fennel Salad With Meyer Lemon or Arugula Salad With Broiled Lemon.
Meyer lemons have a beautiful floral aroma that can add a wonderful note to traditional lemon dishes - lemonade, cocktails, and salads in particular.
While their unique flavor can enhance lemon desserts, such as Lemon Bars, they are not as acidic as regular lemons and should not be used one-to-one or blindly substituted in sweet recipes. When in doubt, taste before you bake!
Experiment with Meyer lemons on your own, or try one of these Meyer lemon-specific recipes:
- Meyer Lemon Marmalade
- Preserved Meyer Lemon
- Meyer Lemon Spicy Chutney
- Meyer Lemon Poundcake
- Meyer Lemon Curd
How to Grow Meyer Lemons
Meyer lemon trees like the warmth of the sun but don't do well when faced with a lot of wind. They need plenty of water, but also good drainage. They can stand cold snaps, but not freezing temperatures. In short, they aren't as picky as some citrus, but they aren't going to do so well (and blossom tasty fruit) in anything cooler than a very temperate climate.
The good news for lemon lovers in colder climes: Meyer lemon trees do quite well in containers, so you can move them inside and outside as the seasons change. They won't grow huge in that situation, but they will fruit and you'll have some remarkably sweet-tinged lemons to play with in the kitchen.
See more about Growing Meyer Lemons.